Thursday, 19 May 2011

From the Neighborhood

This is kinda an unusual story.

Several years ago in DC....we had a medical examiner who was in charge of the whole district.  This guy....whose name we shall just leave as history and blank....got into a bit of trouble back in 2003....when five of his top subordinates....all women....accused him of sexual harassment.  Things got bad enough....that the city just plain dumped him.

Naturally, DC rushes quickly up to fill his spot with one of the five who women who were in the city health department and had been accusing him of issues.

It's a funny thing....to be a real city medical examiner and run a massive department like this....you have to be accredited by a national organization.  Well....time goes by and apparently, this gal who was the now permanent city medical examiner (Marie Pierre-Louis) didn't have such an accredition.

Days, weeks, months and years passed.  The District of Columbia didn't worry about it.  They had murders, crime and corruption as issues....and this really didn't matter.

Then a couple of years ago....the city asked and got $220 million from the Feds to build a new forensics lab....which ought to open next year.  And now, someone finally started to wake-up and realize that you don't have a recognized guy or gal running the medical examiner office.  Bluntly, every crime that comes up for court activity.....can be challenged because the chief medical officer can't stamp any of these as "complete".

Some speculation now exists around the city....that the lab might not even be able to open because it's a joke to run it without any real substance to back up evidence.

So, folks have dug around this whole mess.  This gal...Pierre-Louis....was actually given a one-year waiver already, and folks thought she'd come out and take the classes to get certified.  She didn't.  So she's come back for another waiver.  None of this is looking good right now.

The curious thing is that the police union has noted all of this....that the city council ought to have done something a couple of years ago.....and just looked away.

The amusing thing?  Counties in Alabama....actually have a certified medical examiner on hand.  You'd think that a place like DC could quickly clean up this mess....hire up some out of District person who has the degree and certification to be a medical examiner.....but they won't.  It's almost like Ms Pierre-Louis has some kinda evidence in a closet on every city council person.   So our $200 million CSI-like lab....just might be sitting empty for a while.  But don't worry....if you shoot some fellow in DC....with the current guys in charge....the odds are that you can get off the hook with a decent lawyer and some dimwits as medical examiner.

Just humble observations from my local neighborhood.  

Maybe Just a Label

My associate at work and I....got into a discussion today.  He'd been out over the past week and attending a social event within his church.  He's a church elder and dispenses advice on occasion.  So a young lady from the church who is a Georgetown college individual came up for a chat.  She's finishing up her degree in social work....and just wanted his impressions.

He sat and mostly listened.  She has spent almost four years at Georgetown, which costs a ton of money.  She's borrowed and will have to spend at least ten years paying off this significant amount of money (likely over $80k).  He sat there in total amazement....for a degree in social work....you could have done this at some state-level college (without any name value) and likely borrowed $40k maximum.

My associate kindly pointed this out....you will spend a whole decade of your life....working toward paying for this degree.  In her logical mind....the name value of Georgetown made this worth the effort.

I sat and pondered over this.  The thing is....the only places in America where she can get a starting salary of $45k for her field work....is DC, New York, and probably LA.  Philly, Chicago, Boston, and Miami would be a step down.....maybe a $1k less.  But in eighty percent of America....your starting salary for a social worker would be roughly $28k.  She's going to be anchored to the DC for the rest of her life.

The positives?  She has name value and she has connections.  As some former college buddy gives her a name and possible position....she'll use her connections and degree from Georgetown to sidestep things.....and maybe by age 45....she might be making $80k as a social worker.  In most of America....you'd kinda max out at $45k.

Maybe there is a logic to this game.  Maybe she will eventually pay off the degree and by age fifty....be successful with the Georgetown label.  The curious thing for me.....forty years ago, anybody with a year or two of college could be a social worker....even with a degree in physical education.  We've specialized this field to the extent that colleges now see a great moment to entice you to spend $80k that you don't have.....just to become something....that you might not be sure of.

Only in America.